Center for Brownfields Research and Redevelopment
"Brownfields" are defined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development as "abandoned, idled or under-used real property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination." While most of us assume that brownfields are found exclusively in the vicinity of heavy industry, in fact we find such sites throughout the metropolitan area. Sites once used as gas stations, dry cleaners, lumber yards, even golf courses and farms may need some form of remediation before they can be redeveloped. Assessing and redeveloping brownfield sites requires a range of expertise: knowledge of historical land uses; ability to conduct soil and water testing and other environmental assessments; expertise on health impacts and hazardous waste disposal; and finally the ability to engage communities in planning and designing a site's re-use.
Brownfields research and redevelopment offers opportunities to rethink the urban built environment how we construct our urban landscape. Can we make our cities more connected to the natural environment? Can we mitigate the impacts of past environmental abuses, and prevent others in the future? Can we develop our communities without the need for cars or other expensive infrastructure? Can we design our communities so they promote healthy lifestyles? All of these will be important questions in the coming years. Such work is the key to strengthening urban areas, limiting sprawl, and creating more sustainable communities. A very high percentage of urban infill sites are brownfields sites; our ability to assess, mitigate and redevelop these properties will determine the future of the urban built environment.
The USF Center for Brownfields Research and Redevelopment was established by an act of the Florida State Legislature in 1998. After a hiatus of several years, the Center has been revived and acts as a vehicle for organizing USF faculty with interests/expertise in fields including public health, geology, environmental engineering, environmental science, urban planning and design, and anthropology to participate in brownfields research and redevelopment activities. Working in partnership with public agencies, nonprofits and businesses, the USF CBRR brings a unique range of knowledge to bear on brownfields mitigation and associated environmental and redevelopment issues.
EPA grants and state tax incentives have played a critical role in successful projects in Florida. Private sector money seems to be most involved at the individual corporation or developer level when they invest in remediation and redevelopment on particular sites or in designated areas. There are a variety of tax credits available as incentives for development on these sites. EPA and other federal grants are often used to leverage state and local resources more effectively and to get the process started with assessment funds. Other federal agencies such as HUD also have grant programs.
USF CBRR partners with a range of public, private and nonprofit sector partners. We are available to work as subgrantees or co-Principle Investigators on projects involving property research; health and environmental assessment; environmental planning; public health and urban development planning, community design, and community engagement/outreach.
Nebraska Avenue Community Engagement. USF CBRR is part of the Cardno TBE team working with the City of Tampa to plan for the redevelopment of 1103 N. Nebraska Avenue, a brownfields slated for redevelopment alongside the Encore project. CBRR staff and students work with the project team to design and carry out community surveys and outreach meetings to inform redevelopment plans.
Ware's Creek Community Engagement: Working with the City of Bradenton as part of the Cardno TBE consultant team, CBRR faculty and students are conducting two public visioning workshops intended to solicit resident input for the re-use of two sites in Bradenton's Ballard Park neighborhood.
To learn more about brownfields-related funding,
- click here for federal, state and local grants and/or incentives for assessing and/or redeveloping brownfields;
- click here for examples of relevant organizations that do similar work to the services a center would likely provide and funding they have utilized;
- click here for examples of funding structures for brownfields remediation from Gainesville and St. Petersburg;
- click here for Tampa Bay Area brownfields research and redevelopment opportunities; and
- click here for articles about brownfields research and redevelopment, including USF faculty publications.
USF is home to several research and outreach centers, and many faculty whose have expertise relevant to brownfields research and redevelopment issues. Our faculty experts can provide expertise on identifying and mitigating brownfields sites; we can help plan for their reuse; and we can help develop community outreach partners for all phases of brownfield work.
Centers and Offices
Julie Baldwin, Ph.D.
Department of Community and Family Health, College of Public Health
Ph.D., Behavioral Sciences & Health Education, Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Baldwin's research over the years has focused on both infectious and chronic disease prevention targeting children, adolescents, and families. Cross-cutting themes which have characterized her work include: utilizing community-based participatory research approaches, working with undeserved and/or marginalized populations, and addressing health disparities by developing and implementing culturally competent public health interventions.
Joseph Dorsey, Ph.D.
Department of Environmental Science and Policy, USF-St. Petersburg
Ph.D., Environmental Policy, University of Michigan
Dr. Dorsey's research focuses on: brownfield redevelopment and greenfield protection; resource use and environmental degradation in developed and developing nations; corporate environmental decision-making for pollution management effectiveness and eco-efficiency; and empowering communities to participate more effectively in sustainable development initiatives.
Sarina Ergas, Ph.D.
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering
Ph.D., Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Califorina
Dr. Ergas's research has focused on developing carbon sequestration methods, managing the nitrogen cycle, providing access to clean water, and restoring and improving urban infrastructure.
Mark Hafen, Ph.D.
Environmental Science and Policy Program, College of Arts and Sciences
Ph.D., Marine Science, University of South Florida
Dr. Hafen's research focuses on cultural ecology: the impact of religious belief systems on environmental policy; and geographic/geoscience education: distance learning, field-based learning, effective course construction.
Vikas Mehta, Ph.D.
School of Architecture and Community Design, College of The Arts
Ph.D., Urban & Regional Planning & Designing, University of Maryland
Dr. Mehta's research explores the design of the built environment with an emphasis on aspects of human behavior and perceptions, especially as they relate to the design of public spaces and public buildings.
Christian Wells, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences
Ph.D., Anthropology, Arizona State University
Dr. Well's research investigates human impacts on soils and landscapes, cultural and ecological trajectories of long-term socionatural systems, and the influence of environmental worldview on economic decision making.
Amy Stuart, Ph.D.
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering
Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
Dr. Stuart's scholarly interests are primarily related to air pollution and its impacts on human health and the environment.
School of Architecture and Community Design, College of the Arts
M. Arch., Urban Design, Harvard University
Prof. Green's areas of research includes urban/community design planning, economic development/community revitalization, housing/residential development strategies and development regulations.
Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Science
Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Georgia
Dr. Zarger's research includes environmental anthropology, political ecology of water, environmental change, environmental and cultural heritage, urban agriculture, and public engagement in environmental policy.